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Arts in Review

Haute Stuff: A sharp dressed man

Items such as structured black shoes, double breasted blazers, trench coats and maybe even a fedora or two have had more prominence than ever.

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By Leanna Pankratz (The Cascade) – Email

Print Edition: January 25, 2012

Once again, I have found myself musing on the somewhat appalling absence of men in my column. I admit that the fault is entirely my own – especially after I’ve vowed to give men’s fashion more of its due prominence. However, I find myself so absorbed by dresses, heels and trendwatcher accessories that I, understandably, overlook the men’s section – which, let’s be honest here, is remarkably lacking in many retail locations. (Do you hear that, White Rock H&M?) This is not to say that I do not appreciate menswear – quite the opposite, in fact. I am reminded each time I pass a guy who knows how to dress how much I appreciate a well-planned and put-together outfit. In fact, it’s often been men and not women who I am most struck by through their sheer knowledge of what suits them. There’s nothing that quite beats the confidence exuded by a guy who’s taken the time to dress himself. From the clean cut lines of the metrosexual to the cigarette stained snarl of the grunge rocker, I love a definitively-styled outfit – with a spritz of Chanel Allure Homme to seal the deal, please.

Now where was I?

Let’s take a glance at what men have to look forward to in the current and coming seasons? A traditionalist at heart, and a fan-girlish admirer of Cary Grant’s romantic techniques, I am definitely partial to suits, ties and anything with the slightest hint of cinematic drama – a fact I’m beginning to state ad nauseum. It’s no surprise, then, that I could hardly conceal my pleasure upon paging through the latest edition of Vogue to see the return to manly formality that I’ve been longing for. The average guy might not be Humphrey Bogart, but he certainly can dress like him. In the tradition of black and white seducers, winter and spring 2012 runways have been laden with pieces and outfits that speak of moonlit alleyways and cigars – universally labeled the noir look. Items such as structured black shoes, double breasted blazers, trench coats and maybe even a fedora or two have had more prominence than ever. Yves Saint Laurent’s recent collection boasted navy-coloured blazers that give a good line to the body and a look that exudes confidence and old world charisma. Paired with dressed-down jeans for a good contrast, or sleek black trousers, the noir look is sexy in a Don Draper sort of way. Consider it the sartorial equivalent of a scotch on the rocks.

The tone of the coming season is also a lesson in duality. On one hand, designers have presented a Serge Gainsbourg/Alan Ginsberg take on sleek, beat-chic city wear, while others have brightened up their lines a little, in the manner of Tommy Hilfiger’s preppy essentials in pastel hues and fluorescent resort clothes. (I’d be stocking up on boat shoes, if I were you, boys.)

The great beauty of menswear is its astounding versatility that puts even women’s clothing to shame. Street fashion mediums such as The New York Times’ Bill Cunningham, or blogs such as the Sartorialist consistently feature men playing brilliantly off of the classic staple pieces. Men are freer than ever to play around with fashion and really experiment with the things that make them tick.

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